Deloitte was forced to pull out of its work with HLS last month because of a series of actions by SHAC protesters outside the firm’s offices, at the homes of partners and by email and telephone.
Some illegal acts were also carried out, such as smashing office windows, by a separate activist group, the Animal Liberation Front. It took only 10 days of campaigning for Deloitte to sever its ties with HLS.
SHAC also advised any firms outside the UK considering taking on HLS’s work that its reach stretches far around the globe. Natasha Avery, a co-ordinator at SHAC, said: ‘We want to ensure that no company takes on the audit work of HLS. If we find out that another company has, then it can expect to receive the same treatment as Deloitte & Touche.’
Johnathan Hayward, director at Independent Audit, said: ‘I don’t see that Deloitte had any other alternative than to do what it did, and I don’t see that any other firm would be willing to put its staff at risk in this way.’
Avery also warned that HLS, now listed in the US, could not avoid trouble by appointing a US-based firm to carry out audit work. ‘SHAC USA is very strong, so any US auditors should still be worried,’ she said.
SHAC also said the UK government, which had previously provided HLS with banking and insurance facilities, was running out of reasons to help the company. ‘The government will find itself in an increasingly difficult position in regards to HLS if it keeps bailing it out. It is now a US company, and so should have little to do with it.’
HLS is yet to reveal whether it has settled its audit crisis.
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